Vital Records: Marriage, Birth, & Death: Birth Records

About Birth Records

Photo of Jane Sarah Prettyman Smith as a child in 1912
Sarah Jane Prettyman - 1912
(Married name Smith)

Birth records in Tazewell County vary in form, content and location depending on the time period in which the birth was reported.  The records may be in the form of a one-line entry on a register page or a certificate which can contain a great deal of information about the individual and his/her birth.

Even though the county was created in 1827, Tazewell County did not begin recording births until 1878.  However, some delayed birth certificates were issued for births prior to 1878.

Although Tazewell County births began being recorded in 1878, recording was not compulsory until January 1, 1916.  The Tazewell County Clerk's office estimates only about 10% of the births prior to 1916 were actually recorded.

Beginning in 1916, the Tazewell County Clerk and the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records jointly recorded birth records.  Compliance was very high, reaching 100% state-wide by 1922.

The cost of obtaining a birth certificate can vary widely depending on the repository and whether the copy is certified.  Certified birth certificates are only available from the Tazewell County Clerk’s office or the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Birth Record Links

Accessing Birth Records

Prior to 1878

Tazewell County did not record births prior to 1878.  However, the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society has a list of delayed birth certificates issued by Tazewell County. Some of these delayed certificates are for births prior to 1878.

Delayed registration of a birth was made only when an individual applied – usually as an adult. 

You may access this list at our library.  If you are unable to visit, our research staff can check for you for a small fee.

1878-1915

Only the Tazewell County Clerk recorded birth records prior to 1916.  Recording of births was voluntary – the Tazewell County Clerk’s office estimates less than 10% of births prior to 1916 were recorded.

Microfiche indexes of the 1878-1915 birth records are also available at many depositories – including the TCGHS library and the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) system as well as major genealogical libraries.   The same repositories will have microfilm of the 1878-1915 birth records.

If a birth is not found, we again recommend consulting the delayed birth certificate list in our collection (discussed above).

Research Options:

Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society Library

You can review the microfiche at our library.  If you are unable to visit, our research staff can check the microfiche for a small fee.

Tazewell County Clerk

The Tazewell County Clerk charges $5.00 for a birth certificate search – whether a record is found or not.

If the birth is found, an uncertified copy can be issued by the Tazewell County Clerk at no further cost.

If a certified copy is desired, the fee increases to $16 for the first copy and $11 for each additional copy. contact the Tazewell County Clerk for an Application of a Deceased Person form.  Proof of ID, proof of death and your relationship to deceased will also be required.

You will be given a copy of the original certificate unless it is too fragile to be handled—in which case, you will receive an abstracted copy.

Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD)

IRAD is a system of regional depositories managed by the Illinois State Archives – housing the archival records of local Illinois counties, townships, municipalities and school districts.  The Illinois Regional Archives Depository covering Tazewell County is located at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.  IRAD does not charge to access the records. However, you may be charged minor photocopy fees.  IRAD’s research policy provides more details.

1916 - Present

Although content varies, birth certificates after 1916 include detailed information such as the full name of the child; date, time, and place of birth; sex; race; name, age and occupation of father; maiden name and age of the mother; number of total children born to the mother, and parents' place of birth (usually just state or country).

Birth certificates from this period are only available from the Tazewell County Clerk’s office or the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records.  Your research options are:

Tazewell County Clerk

The Tazewell County Clerk charges $5.00 for a document search – whether a birth certificate is found or not.

If the birth is found and is more than 75 years ago, an uncertified copy can be issued by the Tazewell County Clerk at no further cost. 

If the birth is less than 75 years ago, only certified copies are available.

Birth records are confidential records and only the following are entitled to receive certified copies:

  • Person named on the record if 18 years of age or older
  • Parents named on the record
  • Legal guardian or legal representative of the child.

Proper identification including a photo ID is required.  Proof of guardianship or legal representation will also be required.  Contact the Tazewell County Clerk for more details.

If a certified copy is desired, the fee increases to $16 for the first and $11 for each additional copy. Again, check the Application for a Birth Record search by the Tazewell County Clerk's office for more details including latest access restrictions and prices.  If the person named is deceased, contact the Tazewell County Clerk for an Application of a Deceased Person form.  Proof of death and your relationship to deceased will also be required.

You will be given a copy of the original certificate unless it is too fragile to be handled—in which case, you will receive an abstracted copy.

Illinois Department of Public Health

The Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records charges $10.00 for a copy of the original paper birth record (must specify “Genealogical Copy”) ($2 for each extra copy).

Note: Genealogical Copies are only available if the birth occurred at least 75 years ago.  

Cost of a certified copy varies depending on the information listed.  Since 2014, all certified “copies” are issued from a database rather than the original certificate. 

See how to obtain a birth certificate from the Illinois Department of Public Health for additional details and prices.

All information and prices current as of March 2019.
Let us know if you find any information is out of date.